What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Three summers ago, I put on fifteen pounds in less than six weeks. To most nutritionists, that would be viewed as extreme weight gain and unhealthy, and I wouldn’t argue otherwise, but I’d just spent a little bit less than two months in Paris, one of my favorite places in the world, and had the time of my life. I scarfed down Nutella crepes daily, lived off baguettes, and devoured everything offered to me. It was an “Eat, Pray, Love” experience, if you will, minus the whole “finding oneself” aspect. I’d had plenty of time for that during my childhood in northern California.
But returning home to the bay area wasn’t easy. I was met with uncomfortable stares from people I’d grown up with, many of whom had always known me as the 105-pound willowy ginger. No one was impolite enough to comment on my looks — except an older male family friend, who said upon my arrival, “I’ve noticed you’ve gained a ton of weight.”
“Say ‘thank you,’ Laura,” my mother urged me, as if naturally thin people are supposed to appreciate back-handed compliments of this nature. Through gritted teeth, I obliged. Then I went home and sobbed into my pillow before a teary two-hour session on the treadmill.
Singer Lady Gaga, who has made a career out of dressing in wacky outfits and doing strange things, seems pretty comfortable with herself, so I’m guessing she’s not going to have the same over-dramatic, spiteful, bitter reaction to all the headlines about her noticeable weight gain, which she has even chalked up to the food in her father’s restaurant. Though the performer has a pretty good attitude about all the invasive remarks and unnecessary observations, it’s tough to forget about this sort of thing, and the New York crooner is not new to diet restrictions. She tweeted earlier this year, “Just killed back to back spin classes. Eating a salad dreaming of a cheeseburger #PopSingersDontEat #IWasBornThisWay.”
She’s been battling such demons for a long time. In February, the proud Italian musician discussed her bulimic past with Maria Shriver, stating:
“I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina, but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night. I used to come home and say, ‘Dad, why do you always give us this food? I need to be thin.’”
I’d hate to see her revisit old habits to keep hurtful headlines away, so it’s time to accept that everyone has chubby (or less-than-frail) phases, and laughing at Lady Gaga about her apparent body change is dangerous not just for her, but for girls and women all over who have to worry about being scrutinized for their size.
Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.